Issue details

24/00038 - Kent's 2024 Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP)

Proposed decision

 

To APPROVE a BSIP initiative table for the period 2025-2029 for inclusion within Kent’s 2024 BSIP submission. The table details proposed initiatives across a range of focus areas (e.g. network, fares and ticketing, infrastructure) which could be delivered should additional external funding be awarded to KCC through the Government’s National Bus Strategy process.

 

Reason for the decision

 

-      Affects two or more Electoral Divisions

-      Involves potential expenditure of over £1m should funding be made available by Government to support the proposed 2025-29 initiative programme

 

Background

 

           In October 2021, Kent County Council (KCC) worked in conjunction with the county’s bus operators to submit a Kent Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) to Government. The original BSIP was written in response to the National Bus Strategy, which set out an ambitious vision for the recovery and subsequent growth of the bus industry across England.

 

           In April 2022 KCC learnt that its BSIP had been well received by Government and that it had been allocated £35.1m of funding to deliver some of the interventions identified within the plan. The first tranche of this funding totalling £18.9m was received in March 2023 and has been utilised to roll out an initiative programme across the 23/24 financial year - see Decision - 23/00027 - BSIP Tranche One. The second tranche of funding, totalling £16.2m for the delivery of initiatives in 24/25 is expected to be formally accepted and received in June 2024 and was subject to Decision - 23/00104 - BSIP Tranche Two

 

           In January 2024, Government set out new BSIP guidance for all Local Transport Authorities (LTAs) requiring the submission of a revised 2024 BSIP by 12th June 2024.

 

The 2024 BSIP must consist of three main elements, with requirements “a” and “b” involving factual updates only – i.e. covering factual information and initiatives already agreed and approved through previous BSIP related Council Decisions:

 

a)    Updating the baseline to 2023/24: updating the 2021 BSIP’s account of the current situation to reflect all developments since 2021, including evolution of the local bus market post-pandemic and its issues and opportunities & highlighting achievements made since 2021 through BSIP funding received to date.

 

b)    Setting out the delivery programme for financial year 2024/25: should BSIP Tranche 2 funding for 24/25 be formally awarded and accepted.

 

c)    A plan for 2025 and beyond, refreshing the plan’s ambition and setting out a pipeline of proposals for the four years 2025/26 – 2028/29, ready for delivery should external funding be made available from Government through the National Bus Strategy process.

 

          Like all LTAs, KCC must produce and submit its BSIP in order to secure the formal offer and release of its BSIP funding for 2024/25.

         

          The release of related BSIP+ funding is also subject to this submission.

 

Government have been clear that there is currently no funding available to support 25-29 BSIP programmes but have indicated that future funding decisions/ allocations may be based on the BSIPs submitted through this process by LTAs.

        

 

Options (other options considered but discarded)

 

Option 1: To not produce a 2024 BSIP This has been rejected as failure to submit a       BSIP in line with Government requirements will result in the loss of tranche 2 BSIP funding for 24/25 and the release of BSIP+ funding which is vital for bus service support.

 

·     How the proposed decision supports Framing Kent’s Future 2022-2026: (https://www.kent.gov.uk/about-the-council/strategies-and-policies/corporate-policies/our-council-strategy)

 

The decision supports Priority 2: Infrastructure for communities and the specific commitment to work with our partners through the Kent Enhanced Bus Partnership and with Government to explore sustainable and commercially viable options for providing bus transport to meet people’s needs, making the best use of Bus Service Improvement Plan funding.

 

How the proposed decision supports: Securing Kent’s Future:democracy.kent.gov.uk/documents/s121235/Securing Kents Future - Budget Recovery Strategy.pdf

 

The decision does not place any additional financial burden on KCC as all initiatives proposed within the 25-29 programme would be subject to external funding being made available by Government through the National Bus Strategy process. 

 

 

 

 

 

Decision type: Key

Reason Key: Affects more than two Electoral Divisions;

Decision status: For Determination

Notice of proposed decision first published: 07/05/2024

Decision due: Not before 5th Jun 2024 by Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport
Reason: To allow 28 day notice period required under Exeuctive Decision regulations

Lead member: Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport

Lead director: Haroona Chughtai

Department: Growth, Environment & Transport

Contact: Dan Bruce Email: dan.bruce@kent.gov.uk Email: Dan.bruce@kent.gov.uk.

Consultees

The proposed decision will be considered ta the Environment and Transport cabinet Committee on 21 May 2024

Financial implications: All initiatives proposed within Kent’s BSIP initiative programme for 2025-29 are subject to external funding being made available by Government through the National Bus Strategy process. The 2024 BSIP does not commit KCC to direct financial commitment in the absence of this funding. Government have advised that the agreement and submission of a 2024 BSIP will secure the release of BSIP tranche 2 funding for 24/25 and BSIP+ funding for 24/25.

Legal implications: As per BSIP Tranche 1 and 2 funding, it is anticipated that any funding offer arising from this process would result in an MOU and Grant Determination letter between Government and KCC

Equalities implications: The EQIA for BSIP and Enhanced Partnerships has been updated to take account of this requirement

Documents